7 Jan 2008

New Caledonian president vows fair deal as wealth grows

2:42 pm on 7 January 2008

The New Caledonian president, Harold Martin, has committed his government towards a more equitable distribution of the territory's wealth.

Speaking in Congress, he said the nickel sector contributed to economic growth of 4.5 percent last year, with massive increases in tax revenue.

But he says measures would be put in place to look at price controls in response to concerns by many that the cost of living has risen sharply.

A recent survey showed that a cross section of products in New Caledonia cost 72 percent more than in mainland France.

In his speech, he also raised the spectre of negotiating a new accord to replace the 1998 Noumea accord on greater autonomy.

The Noumea accord provides for a phased and irreversible transfer of powers from France to New Caledonia and a referendum on possible independence by 2018.

Although signatory to the accord, the pro-French camp has been seeking to revise the deal.